Good for Jim Florio… at least he remembers who he is.
When asked whether or not he would endorse law partner Doug Steinhardt for Governor, the former Governor put it very simply: “He’s not the right party as far as I’m concerned. I would not vote for him. I’m a Democratic voter.”
Doug is the Chairman of the Republican State Committee. The two are partners at Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Cappelli. This insight came courtesy of that doyen of bloggers… David Wildstein.
But hey, Florio gets it. Party means something.
It is the job of the leader of every legislative party caucus – the Speaker, the Senate President, and the minority leaders – to defend and expand their caucus at the expense of the other side. Those are the rules. It is first and foremost. We all understand this.
Last week, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick rolled out his plan for addressing New Jersey’s fiscal crisis. It was a direct appeal to elect more Republicans to the Assembly and centered on what they would do if elected.
Bramnick did exactly what he needed to do. After pointing out the fiscal evils perpetrated by legislative Democrats, Bramnick lays out three solid policy positions that points New Jersey Republicans in the direction of what we should be for…
(1) Cap State Spending at 2% (just like local government spending is capped).
(2) Cut the State Income Tax by 10% (make NJ more competitive w. other states).
(3) Full Deduction of Property Taxes on the State Income Tax (a move that takes the property tax issue away from Democrats like Andy Kim, Mikie Sherrill, and Josh Gottheimer).
In a political sense, the Assembly Republican Leader’s plan does not demonize any organized, well-funded interest groups – it simply starves government for the benefit of taxpayers. Bramnick makes war on spending, not people. And that is good politics.
Bramnick avoids the mistake made in 2015 by then Governor Chris Christie and his Republican Party. Christie’s pension/health benefits commission called for many changes but he went further and directly confronted the unions and their members, demonizing them in the process. Christie inadvertently created well-organized, well-financed cells of opposition in every Republican district in the state.
Like this year, 2015 was a low-turnout election with the Assembly at the top of the ticket. Public employee unions targeted Republicans and Democrat super PACs – including those controlled by George Norcross – poured money into the campaigns of Democrat challengers. Republicans lost four seats – four friends by the names of Donna, Caroline, Mary Pat, and Sam.
Yesterday, Senate President Steve Sweeney announced his “bi-partisan” plan that targets many of the same people that Governor Christie pissed off in 2015. It should be noted that Sweeney’s plan was formally rolled out after the filing deadline for the Democrat primary. Unfortunately for Republicans… it is some months until the November election.
This is not about the merits of the “bi-partisan plan” but rather, it is about the politics and timing of the plan.
Are Republicans in danger of repeating 2015 again?
Will the super PACS’s controlled by Sweeney allies like George Norcross back up every Republican legislator on the ballot this year? Or will they stay true to form and support their Democrat challengers? Will the Republicans on the ballot this year end up getting it from both ends?
This situation might be different if New Jersey Republicans had taken the time to build a base of small dollar donors and activists. But as fundraiser Ali Steinstra noted at the March NJGOP Leadership Summit, broad-based Republican fundraising can only be accomplished by appeals to the party’s conservative base.
The GOP establishment in New Jersey is barely on speaking terms with its base, so the ground has not been prepared. We have no equivalent to what the NJEA and the Norcross super PACs will throw against us, so pissing on a hornet’s nest probably isn’t a good idea. At this moment in time, it is more likely to motivate the kind of turnout that will cost us another four or more seats in November.
Assembly Leader Bramnick has a sensible, Republican plan that addresses the problem of spending and taxation. It avoids drawing fire from well-organized, well-funded interest groups. Those on the ballot this year have a choice to make.